updated 2/12/2008 9:13:04 PM ET 2008-02-13T02:13:04

Tornadoes and other severe weather raked the Deep South on Tuesday, pushing Mississippi River ships around like toys, damaging homes and killing at least one person.

A tornado near a hospital sucked up a woman who had just left after visiting, killing her, officials said.

Several river vessels broke loose in the winds, said Port of New Orleans spokeswoman Cynthia Swain. A freighter docked at the Andry Street Wharf was pushed across the river and collided with two vessels downstream.

The Coast Guard also said a ship was grounded on the riverbank. There were no indications of serious levee damage, and the ship was not sinking, said Chris Bonura, another spokesman for the port.

The river remained open, and there were no reports of injuries, Swain said.

A woman was killed by a tornado after leaving the Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center in Independence, La., at the height of the storm against advice, said Sherre Pack-Hookfin, the hospital’s acting administrator.

Falling trees damaged more than two dozen vehicles parked at the hospital, and an equipment storage trailer was flipped on its side. The National Weather Service confirmed it was a tornado, one of several reported throughout the afternoon.

A possible tornado damaged a condominium complex in Florida’s Cocoa Beach, near Kennedy Space Center, said Brevard County Fire and Rescue. No serious injuries were reported, and shuttle operations were not affected, authorities said.

Homes were damaged in Hinds County, Miss., said Lea Stokes, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Thousands of customers lost power at points in Mississippi.

The storms follow catastrophic weather last week that produced the deadliest tornado outbreak in years, though that was to the north of Tuesday’s track.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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